DEAR HARRIETTE: My son goes to a boarding school a few hours away from home. I am very proud of his improvements, and he has made many friends. My son primarily has foreign friends who are international students. Since he is the boy closest to home, he has invited five international friends to stay at our home for a long weekend.
I am preparing to sell my home, and teenage boys aren't always the cleanest people -- especially six of them. How can I tell my son that he can't invite so many friends over? I feel horrible excluding some children who can't go home. -- International B&B, Syracuse, New York
DEAR INTERNATIONAL B&B: If at all possible, do not make your son choose among his friends. Since they are far away from home, these boys need to feel connected and cared for, not rejected or hand-picked. Instead, make clear ground rules. Decide on areas of the house where they can be and areas that are off-limits. Explain this to your son first, and then when the boys arrive, tell the group what you expect. Explain that you are selling your house, so you need them to respect it. Then monitor them.
Sure, they will probably be a bit messy. But if the area where they hang out is clearly defined, including the yard, if you have one, you should be able to manage them without too much of a cleanup job on the back end.